I am at the end of the first week of being off social media and I have a few days to go. It’s been interesting and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the top three things that have happened in my life as a result of being off social media. One of them has completely thrown me off my game and it’s prompted this blog post. Let’s start with the easy ones first.

Number one – I had more free time. This shouldn’t surprise me, but it did. In fact, it’s been so surprising, it’s been unsettling to see how much time I spend scrolling Facebook. (I’ve missed the daily tiara messages from Louella.) My typical morning ritual has been that I wake up at 5:30am, then I scroll social media and drink coffee until it’s time to get ready to go. I like the easy transition. But then, suddenly, there was no more social media. So I wrote a blog post each morning, then left and went to the gym. My need to write is enormous and I keep saying it would be great to write a blog post each day. Well, as it turns out, I can. I just need to not sit passively drinking coffee and looking at whatever it is I look at on social media. (Mostly memes and pictures of people at meetings and protests.) Instead of social media, I had a blog post each day and five days at the gym. Neato.

Number two – all those things I keep saying I want to learn? Like video editing? And how to shoot decent A Roll? And how to shoot any B Roll at all? Yeah. When I come home from work and my brain is looking for a creative outlet, it seems that in the absence of social media, my brain insisted on learning stuff. That was cool. Well, mostly it was cool. On the weekend, it turned out I had too much free time so binge watched nearly all the new season of Orange is the New Black. So. Yeah. Interesting. Still a lesson here. I was pretty happy to kick back and relax and watch TV. I don’t usually do that. My brain goes into high gear and then takes power breaks on social media. That’s not really a break. Instead of social media, I learned important things. Like, what happened to Piper since she was released from prison. Also some stuff about how to use keywords on YouTube.

Number three – this was is a bit more unsettling and it’s what prompted this post because I SWORE I was fine being off social media until this happened. It turns out I also get my world news from Facebook. Today I got it by accident. No preparation. No community support. No public outcry.

I was reading about how to master tags on WordPress and YouTube. The big suggestion is that you go to Google Trends and have a look at what searches are trending. Cool idea, right? Right. Well. Right, but not happy. I couldn’t figure out why the Gilroy Garlic Festival was trending so I clicked the link. Then I nearly got sick as Google returned hits on another shooting. Without social media running in the background, I am out of the world news. So to recap, instead of social media, I am in a bubble away from white supremacist shooters murdering children. Right up until I’m not in a bubble.

So what is my take away a week into this? Well, a few things come to mind. The big one is that I didn’t entirely give up social media. Actually I remained on Instagram. I don’t have a rationale on why. I think I just wasn’t ready to give up all contact with the outside world, and Instagram is just plain pretty pictures. Unless you actively click the comments, dramatic debates sink out of sight. And I’m just going to say I wildly increased how much YouTube I watched. (Does that count as social media? I mean, it was for learning purposes related to my goals, but it definitely increased.)

The other thing is that while I gave up reading social media, I never gave up posting on it. Say what? Yes, it’s true. I have a dozen little scripts running in the background at all times doing things like posting my daily blog posts and reposting my Instagram pictures all over everywhere, from Tumblr to Twitter to Facebook. The downside is that sometimes these scripts fail and do weird things. When that happens, I swoop in, clean up the post, and then head off on my way. Right now, for all I know, my posting scripts are caught in an endless loop of spamming horror and people are unsubscribing and blocking me. Guess I’ll find out on August 1.

Here is what I have decided will happen when I return on line. The first thing – I love social media. Like LOVE it. I think it’s great. And realistically, I don’t think anyone who has public facing goals can simply turn off Facebook and Twitter and think the world will help promote my goals on my behalf. To quote my friend, “It don’t work like that.” (Such a great quote. I use it a lot.) For me to continue to have reach and influence, I need to use social media.

BUT I don’t need to live on social media.

I’m not sure what the magic number is for how much is reasonable, but right now I think 30 minutes each day is enough. I may need to increase that, particularly on weekends, but what I am committed to is that the thirty minutes each day I spend on Facebook and Twitter is going to have to be focus time and not scrolling time that I pull in five minute chunks. Why? Because five minute chunks is like a gateway and if I do it six times each day, that’s my thirty minutes eaten up without blinking and I have accomplished nothing.

Also – it can’t be in the morning because that’s my permanent new gym time. In fact, I am getting up at 5am tomorrow so I can get more gym time in. I need to have more cardio on some days and definitely more shower time. (Sorry to my coworkers who learned this right along with me last week.)

These are my lessons so far this week. In a few more days, I’ll go on line and see what I missed. Hopefully it doesn’t take more than thirty minutes.

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